In the 2011 Captain America movie, the super soldier serum is developed by Dr. Abraham Erskine, who is killed shortly after it is successfully tested on Steve Rogers. With Dr. Erskine dead the United States military shuts down the super soldier program and puts Rogers on tour.

But why was the super soldier program discontinued? Wouldn't the military have had Dr. Erskine keep detailed records throughout the development process, including the current serum formula? This then should have allowed the military to continue the program, even with Dr. Erskine dead.

  • 4
    This is such a common thing in all forms of entertainment that there's even a TV Tropes page about it named "No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup".
    – Tacroy
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 19:40
  • 1
    +1 Good Guy @Tacroy mentions TVTropes, but don't give you an link because they know its a tarbaby.
    – user20155
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 5:36

3 Answers 3


Erskine had the formula down pat at that point, most of Erskine's arc in the film is trying to find worthy people to treat with it. But, due to what happened with Red Skull, Erskine wouldn't trust anyone to use the formula wisely, so he kept it secret.

In the comics, my limited understanding is that the formula's success partially depended on Steve Rogers' specific genetics. In the film this is hinted at after Erskine dies. They take some of Rogers' blood and mention the secret to the formula is hidden in his genes.

After Erskine's death in the movie universe, the government had Stark work on trying to replicate the Super Soldier formula. This resulted in the serum that was given to Emil Blonsky in The Incredible Hulk, which helped lead to him becoming The Abomination.

  • What I remember from The Incredible Hulk is that Ross' people were working on what they thought would be a successful formula. Stark Industries provides the military with a variety of things in that movie but it was nowhere mentioned that Tony worked on the serum.
    – edgar
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 3:49

In the comics I believe it is suspected that there is a mole in the program and so Dr Erskine doesn't write down his complete formula. There are notes on the formula however, which is are used in The Incredible Hulk to (in part) make the Hulk and the character Emil Blonsky to make him a super soldier. What isn't known is why it works on Steve Rodgers and apparently no one else. It's surmised that Dr. Erskine left out something important and didn't say what it was. The Super Soldier Serum has only worked successfully on Steve Rodgers.


Erskine did not record any notes about his Super Soldier Serum because he didn't trust other people with it.He had witnessed first hand what could happen if the wrong people got their hands on the serum, so he intentionally kept it secret to prevent there ever being another Red Skull. This is also why Erskine was so particular about who received the serum-anyone who was not a purely good individual would end up having their negative traits greatly enhanced by the serum. This is why Hodge was rejected as a recipient of the serum in favor of Steve Rogers, despite his obvious physical superiority to the latter. The reason why they took samples of Steve's blood after Erskine's death is because the serum altered Steve on a genetic level, so they thought if they could pinpoint exactly where Steve's DNA had been changed they could then reverse engineer the serum from there. This obviously didn't work, as it's mentioned in Agent Carter that the Blitzkrieg Button, Howard Stark's sample of Steve's blood, was the only one remaining, as the government had squandered all of theirs trying and failing to recreate the super soldier serum.

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